'Hunger Games,' 'Goon' top 2012 movies
"Moneyball." "Win Win." "Field of Dreams 2" Yes, 2011 delivered some strong cinematic sports fare.
So what will 2012 offer? Besides more Tim Tebow -- the real world's own wholly (holy?) unbelievable, would-never-make-it-past-the-focus-groups movie -- the current year has its own share of big-screen sports flicks.
On to the list:
Breakdown: A double-crossed black ops soldier seeks revenge. Not the stuff of sports movies -- unless your star is Gina Carano, the former MMA fighter now trying to carry a major motion picture and kicking (ha!) it off under the direction of force of nature Steven Soderbergh ("Ocean's" movies, among many others) and dueling (haha!) with costars Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton.
Release date: Jan. 20
Why to watch: Can Carano pull it off? Plus, it's Soderbergh -- who himself was tabbed for "Moneyball" before Bennett Miller took over.
Breakdown: The next "Slap Shot"? Here, a slacker (Seann William Scott; Stifler from "American Pie") finally finds his role in life -- as a hockey goon on a minor league team.
Release date: March 30
Why to watch: Co-writer is Evan Goldberg (Seth Rogen's writing partner on "Superbad"); co-writer/co-star is Jay Baruchel ("Tropic Thunder"); and Liev Schreiber ("Scream" series) plays a menacing rival goon. Plus, you just know Minnesota-native Scott will nail the accent.
Breakdown: What? You haven't read the books? Actually, some of you probably have. But for the uninitiated, this brings sports on a "Rollerball" level; it's set in a dystopian future in which select children must battle to the death on live TV. (Or on DVR, for sadists with odd work schedules.)
Release date: March 23
Why to watch: Plot not enough? Try the killer (hahaha!) cast, featuring Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), Stanley Tucci (good no matter what) and Sports Movie Hall of Famer Woody Harrelson ("Kingpin," "White Men Can't Jump," "Semi-Pro").
Breakdown: The Gerard Butler ("The Ugly Truth," "The Bounty Hunter" and, of course, "300") romantic comedy is back, with the Scotsman this time playing an ex-pro footballer (the "other" football) who becomes a soccer dad -- while surrounded by attractive moms, of course.
Release date: Listed March 9; still awaiting a trailer, though
Why to watch: Soccer! Plus, those "moms" aren't just eye candy; the talented Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer (Kitty from "Arrested Development") are set to costar.
Breakdown: Not to be confused with "Safe House," "Safe" features Jason Statham -- hero to short/bald/balding guys everywhere -- as an ex-New York cop turned midlevel MMA fighter. And, because he's a bad man but a great guy, he protects a young girl from an array of villains who are trying to steal a secret possessed by said girl. From the director of "Remember the Titans" -- which had a slightly different tone.
Release date: April 27
Why to watch: Statham. Duh. Oh, and Chris Sarandon ("The Princess Bride") in a big role!
Breakdown: Kevin James has played a mall cop, a zookeeper, and now (per IMDb) "a high school biology teacher [who] moonlights as a mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to save the school's music program."
Release date: October
Why to watch: James fans are there already. MMA fans get glimpses at comic/commentator Joe Rogan and legendary fighter Bas Rutten. And to all others, we've got two words: Henry Winkler. (Fine, two more: Salma Hayek.)
Breakdown: It's Butler again! And here he plays Mark Cuban. Wait, no. Here plays mentor to late real-life surfer Jay Moriarity (virtual newcomer Jonny Weston), who aims to take on "Mavericks" -- a treacherous Northern California surfing spot. Curtis Hanson ("8 Mile," "Wonder Boys") directs.
Release date: Oct. 26
Why to watch: Huge waves, the (slightly) badder side of Butler, and Hanson -- who can helm himself a film.
Breakdown: Based on a memoir, Rebecca Hall ("The Town") plays a young woman in Las Vegas who gets involved in a sports-betting scheme with a gang of older guys led by Bruce Willis (Bruce Willis).
Release date: None as yet, but it's playing at Sundance.
Why to watch: Bruce Willis is great. Quirky Bruce Willis? Even better.
Breakdown: Per Deadline.com, Kurt Russell plays a former high school football star who won the big game but ruined his career with an injury on the key play -- and gets to travel back in time and relive game week. Will he change the play call? What Would Tebow Do?
Release date: TBD (although IMDb does say February 2012)
Why to watch: Interesting spin on the sports movie plot. Plus, Barry Sanders as a coach!
Breakdown: Brad Pitt -- Mr. Billy Beane himself -- stars, but not as the Oakland Athletics' general manager. Not even close. Here he's a mob henchman who investigates an illegal poker game gone bad -- one that's said to feature Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) versus Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). Cheat at your own risk.
Release date: TBD
Why to watch: Pitt is on fire, director Andrew Dominik is 2-for-2 ("The Assassination of Jesse James" and "Chopper") and, especially, poker with Soprano!
"Brave": Pixar's upcoming fantasy/adventure follows a princess with mad archery skills.
"The Dark Knight Rises": Hines Freaking Ward in this freaking trailer.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting": Dwyane Wade dances. That is all.
"The Expendables 2": Features all the typical sports tough guys -- Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and of course Novak Djokovic.
"Step Up 4": Dance competition is kind of a sport, right?
"The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan": More football/soccer hooliganism from overseas, and those Brits always bring the grit (just ask Guy Ritchie). But will we ever see it in the States?
"Drift": More surfing, this coming from Down Under, set in the 1970s, with Sam Worthington ("Avatar") as a modern wave-riding pioneer. Same question as "Hooligan," though.
Bonus for 2013: "Three Mississippi"
Breakdown: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin reportedly will team up for a Thanksgiving touch football contest that -- and we're just guessing here -- gets a little out of hand. And it's made with bits of real Adam McKay (Ferrell's writer/director cohort on "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "Step Brothers" and "The Other Guys"), so you know it's good.
Patrick Dorsey is a Page 2 editor and former freshman at Chapman University film school. He is on Twitter at @DorseyPatrick.